Office in the Woods by SelgasCano



Spanish architects Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano of SelgasCano have designed an office for their own practice, located in the woods near Madrid in Spain.


A 20mm thick, curved window made of transparent acrylic forms the north-facing wall of the tunnel-like space.


The opaque, south-facing aspect is constructed from a 110mm thick, insulated, fiber-glass and polyester sandwich, offering shade from direct sunlight.


A hinged opening attached to a weighted pulley mechanism at one end of the building allows varying degrees of natural ventilation.


Photographs are by Iwan Baan.


Here's further information from SelgasCano (in Spanish):


estudio en Verde

Lo que se pretende con este estudio es muy simple: trabajar bajo los árboles.


Para ello necesitamos una cubierta lo más transparente posible. También, y al mismo tiempo, necesitamos aislar del sol directo la zona de las mesas.


Entonces la parte transparente al norte.


La parte que se cubre con una plancha curvada de 20mm de plexiglás incoloro al norte.


Y al sur, donde están las mesas, donde hay que cerrarse bastante más, pero no del todo, al sur una doble plancha de fibra de vidrio y poliéster en su color natural, en medio de las cuales se aloja un aislante translúcido.


Los tres forman un sándwich de 110 mm de espesor total. En el primer caso tenemos la visión transparente y limpia hacia el exterior.


En el segundo una translucidez bien ensuciada por la estructura metálica en voladizo que queda en el interior del sándwich, sobre la que se proyectan ligeramente las sombras de los árboles.


Esta simpleza, tan simple ella, va luego, la muy desagradecida, y se madura en una construcción muy compleja. Compleja, decimos, en el sentido de que no se pudo conseguir una empresa que quisiera involucrarse de principio a fin en hacer un edificio tan pequeño y con elementos que sí eran todos ellos de catálogo pero no eran de montaje, digamos, de catálogo, por lo que se tuvo que contratar por ese procedimiento llamado “por administración” con plazos que, más o menos, se encajaban en a los tiempos libres de las empresas que los ejecutaban.


Por ejemplo: La parte del sándwich que es de poliéster está compuesta por dos tipos de piezas ambas pultrusionadas y ambas de catálogo: una recta con pequeños nervios que le dan rigidez y una curva que se realiza  únicamente para los techos de algunos ferrocarriles alemanes.


Para esta segunda pieza hubo que esperar a una petición por parte de estos ferroviarios ya que los pocos metros del estudio no bastaban para poner en funcionamiento la hilera de la fábrica – ¿podemos saludar y dar las gracias a Gonzalo Guddat que trabajaba entonces para la empresa danesa que lo fabricó?-.


En medio colocamos un aislante blanco translúcido de espuma de polietileno para conservar la translucidez del poliéster.


La parte transparente se realizó con planchas estándar de plexiglás curvadas y fresadas en sus laterales para poder embutirles una lámina de silicona para el sellado entre piezas. Una empresa las curvó, otra las montó.


Y otra más hizo los dos laterales que son de plancha de metacrilato blanco opal de 10 mm sobre un bastidor de acero que por medio de poleas y contrapesos se abren completamente para permitir la circulación del aire.


Antes de todo esto, pero también puede valer después, viene lo de semisoterrarlo, que viene a cuento de permitir la vista horizontal de la parcela en la que se encuentra el brazo.


Todo lo enterrado es hormigón encofrado con tablón de madera, tablón de obra que también se coloca de pavimento, bien atornillado, pintado en dos colores con pintura de dos componentes con base epoxi.


Y para acabar daremos un toque algo menos.., algo más…húmedo: son los días de lluvia, esa lluvia, cuando llueve, las gotas de lluvia sobre el plástico, cuando lo golpean, a veces pocas, a veces muchas, … a veces un sonido,… te dejas llevar,… a veces qué son,…idos.



Autores: Jose Selgas, Lucia Cano, arquitectos
Colaboradores: Jose de Villar - arquitecto, Poliéster, Fiberline

Posted on Thursday June 11th 2009 at 12:29 pm by Brad Turner. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Luxury Larry

    Iwan Baan is the best and that is a dream place to work in!!

  • marius

    i absolutely love this. wonderful place to work in!!

  • Serena Trab

    Is one of the most exciting buildings I’ve seen lately!
    It symbolizes the natural need of workers (first of all people that have to spend too much of their time on a desk in front of a computer) to be a bit closer to nature, outside when possible, under natural lights: true colours, real time, following seasons…
    I’d like to work in that place!

  • looks really beautiful – keep the acrylic lean and clear at all times!

  • was supposed to be clean and clear

  • yimyim

    yeah saw this on archispass a little while ago.
    Id be interested to know what the acoustics are like inside.
    Nice little job!

  • Clark

    This would make my work day so much more pleasant. Like working outide.

  • nick the greek

    I’m sending them my CV right now…dreaming of an escape from dreary Farringdon…

  • Brian

    Coolest design and realization I have seen for a LLLLLOOOONNNGGG TIME!
    LOVE IT!


  • Paul, Yorkshire

    Odd…a piece of litter in my eyes.
    The architect has made no attempt to marry the building with its site.
    As with most architects today, they have chosen to treat nature and the built environment as two separate entities.

    With the insight of climate change its seems all the more relevant to

  • Chris

    I work in a dark basement and always put all my jackets on when I leave work to find its sunny and warm outside…this would be the perfect workplace solution!

    Its so easy to loose touch with the climate in normal workplaces. Hope to see more of this idea.

  • nice fishbowl!

  • Ilian

    I want to go to there

  • slater

    Fantastic space, but I wonder how loud the space is when it rains…could be soothing I suppose.

  • James

    can i work there?

  • rek

    I appreciate the aesthetic, but that curve in the glass would give me migraines.

  • Gilbert

    Its simplistic. Basically a glass tubes with workstations laid across the space. The project is well thought, with the fact of passive design stategies. I kinda admire the simplicity of the project. :)

  • corso

    Excellent!!! Love the way it connects with the enviorment. Natural Light is very important to keep peoples energy up. It’s got a 60’s futuristic bubble like aesthetics, but is very well thought! Nice over view of past concepts and used in contemporary proposals. And I love even more the fact that, spanish speaking architects are the ones proposing the project. Congratulations!!

  • G


  • S

    A perfect piece of refreshing architecture, like robin hoods office, full of his merry men!

  • cath

    this place would drive me nuts. imagine sitting in a bubble in the middle of knowhere with the same people day in day out. oh the pain

  • sluggo


    What a load of nonsense, it works beautifully on the site, just not with your aesthetic preconceptions.

  • Paul, Yorkshire

    How does it work beautifully on the site!
    Its an alien object that could be placed anywhere.
    Have a look at some of the designs by Malcolm Wells…i doubt the animals living in the area are happy with it.

  • Wim

    I wonder what the acoustic effect would be when it rains.

  • Fernando, Esperanto

    You’re right Paul – they should have asked the animals to design the building…duh!

  • huff

    is this a new catagory of architecture? the ‘Built for Blog’?

  • Michael

    this is beautiful. Spain has the best architecture. and uh, paul? I’m sure that the rich and varied wildlife that lives on the plateau outside Madrid (mostly clear-cut since 1600) would really prefer to see malcolm wells bury half of that in tomas kinkade landscape.

  • Gabriel

    I feel that the environment was considered when they were designing this place. Note how low and flat the building is, almost like a bunker half concealed in the ground.

    As much the shape is interesting (to humans), it gives me the feeling it is unobtrusive to nature. It doesnt need to look like a rustic robin hood tree house or a nest built by animals to “blend in with its environment” doesnt it?? that would be pretentious

  • Tyler

    I would kill to work in this space. Very well done!

  • jack the ripper

    i ‘ d be curious to see the productivity results from the staff in this space .

    i bet outstanding . how could you not feel inspired – no matter what – when working in this haven ? all weathers considered!

    this is one of the best posts i have seen on Dezeen in a long time .

    Let us hope it will give ideas to revolutionize the office space …

  • I have two words:
    Bird strikes.

    • the crew

      never, absolutely never, a bird striked there, why? i don´t know…

  • von dammit


    I would be interested to see sections of the clear acrylic and the opaque sandwich panel. How stable is this building thermally?

    Leaf litter would have to be annoying in autumn – quick, Jose, get the broom!

    But these things aside – I really love it.

  • Al-Ishaq

    I add my voice to Roberto.

    To keep it clean and clear like that it will take some daily maintenance that will steal the feeling of nature and replace it with corporate janitors going up and down the skin of the office. Unless they clean it once before dawn.

    To be honest I don’t mind some dirtiness of nature on my wind shield. I’d like to see some bird poop splattered here and their, leafs resting above me, occasional snails traveling by or even keep an eye on my squirrels trap outside. Who knows you might even meet the blair witch while working after hours.


  • victor v.


  • Prof. Z


  • pat j

    absolutely love this, its also the tidiest office i’ve ever seen!

  • Masud

    Nice design. But what is the need to establish an office in the jungle?

  • aida tannoury

    i agree with paul yorkshire
    it’s a gadget
    vivable for a very little space of time.
    superb for the firsttttt sight.

  • this is like the best work place ever… pravo

  • aida

    thats too beautiful to work there….!!!

  • freedom

    how do i send my resume?

  • love it

  • Love it, Love it, Love it (!) every time i see it. Such a great piece of architecture.

  • Ariane

    It's a shame that I'm just founding out about this place now. Had I known about it when I was in Spain, I would have made an attempt to visit.